How It Works and Is It Safe?
Utilized within opiate recovery programs for over five decades, methadone has numerous clinical trial studies behind it to verify its effectiveness and safety. In comparison to all other medications that are utilized for the treatment of addiction, methadone has been the most studied and monitored to ensure its safety. Methadone works with a patient’s central nervous system to prevent additional opioid cravings, as well as any withdrawal symptoms that often take place once the use of opioids has ceased. Typically, methadone is taken daily in the form of a liquid solution or a dissolvable tablet.
Studies have indicated that when used under the direction of a qualified healthcare professional, there are no substantial short or long-term health risks since methadone has been researched and proven as a medically safe and non-toxic medication. Side effects are rare and temporary and typically only take place during the induction phase of treatment when patients are working with their healthcare provider to determine the specific dosage needed.
According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, methadone can be safely used by pregnant women who are battling an addiction to opioids, as methadone does not pose any serious health risks to the mother or her baby.
As is the case with most medication, there are risks involved with the use of methadone if taken outside of the prescribed guidelines. Overdose from methadone is a reality for those who abuse the medication for recreational purposes and specifically for individuals who abuse additional substances simultaneously. While methadone overdose is the cause of one-third of all prescription medication deaths every year, it is important to note that these deaths are due to illicit abuse of this medication, not when utilized within a medication assisted treatment program. When taken as prescribed under the supervision of a qualified medical professional, methadone is extremely safe.
The Effectiveness of Methadone Treatment
Due to decades of data and research, it can be stated that in addition to its safety, methadone is effective in the treatment of opioid addiction. According to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), programs that include methadone to treat opioid addiction are the most effective form of treatment currently available. Multiple studies have confirmed the following successes are directly associated with methadone treatment:
- A reduction or complete discontinuation of drug use
- A reduction in the risk of overdose
- Reduction in the risk of contracting hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and HIV/AIDS
- Drastic increase in life expectancy (the average death rate of individuals addicted to opiates who take part in a methadone treatment program is 30% lower than those who do not receive treatment)
- A lower chance of taking part in illegal activities
- An improvement in family stability as well as the potential to obtain and maintain employment
- More positive outcomes for both pregnant women and their babies
Benefits of Methadone Treatment Plus Counseling
Methadone is just one piece of the comprehensive medication assisted treatment program. While methadone reduces the cravings and physical pain associated with withdrawal, it also provides patients the mental clarity required to be productive participants within therapeutic components of their treatment program. Methadone tackles the physical symptoms associated with withdrawal and recovery, while therapy helps patients work on the emotional and underlying issues that may have aided in the development of addiction in the first place.
How You Can Be Successful in a Medication Assisted Treatment Program: Although methadone has a proven record of being safe and effective, it is important for patients to realize that it is not a “cure all” for their addiction. There is not one simple answer or cure for addiction. Long-term recovery takes patience, dedication, and effort on the part of the individual patient in order to maintain a healthy life. By partnering with the dedicated team of physicians, nurses, and counselors at a Western Virginia Comprehensive Center, patients are given the opportunity to obtain guidance, support, and expertise from a dedicated team of medical professionals. By following the advice given and playing an active role within treatment, patients can drastically increase the chances of achieving and maintaining long-term recovery.
How to Support Your Loved One During Medication Assisted Treatment: It is important to first realize that in order to provide support to your loved one who is struggling with an opioid addiction, you must first obtain help for yourself. By consulting the experts within a treatment program, you will be able to educate yourself about the disease of addiction and understand the limitations of a treatment program, as well as learning what your loved one will require from you throughout the course of treatment. Individual counseling, family therapy, and support groups specifically targeted to the loved ones of recovering addicts provide family members the support and guidance required to move forward in offering the appropriate support to their loved ones. Remember, in order to provide the highest quality of care to the ones you love, you must take care of your needs as well.
The Side Effects of Methadone
The following are side effects that have been associated with the use of methadone:
- Abdominal pain
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Sleep problems
- Exhaustion or fatigue
- Dry mouth
- Slowed breathing
- Skin rashes
Please contact Western Virginia Comprehensive Treatment Centers today to learn more about methadone and the other treatment options that are available.